Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman's Life

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“[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR
 
Includes an exclusive conversation between Meryl Streep and Anna Quindlen!

In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about
 
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
 
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”
 
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”
 
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
 
Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.
 
“Classic Quindlen, at times witty, at times wise, and always of her time.”—The Miami Herald
 
“[A] pithy, get-real memoir.”—Booklist
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A superb love story from Anna Quindlen, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rise and Shine, Blessings, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life
 
Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.
 
Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“There comes a moment in every novelist’s career when she . . . ventures into new territory, breaking free into a marriage of tone and style, of plot and characterization, that’s utterly her own. Anna Quindlen’s marvelous romantic comedy of manners is just such a book. . . . Taken as a whole, Quindlen’s writings represent a generous and moving interrogation of women’s experience across the lines of class and race. [Still Life with Bread Crumbs] proves all the more moving because of its light, sophisticated humor. Quindlen’s least overtly political novel, it packs perhaps the most serious punch. . . . Quindlen has delivered a novel that will have staying power all its own.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[A] wise tale about second chances, starting over, and going after what is most important in life.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Quindlen’s astute observations . . . are the sorts of details every writer and reader lives for.”—Chicago Tribune

“[Anna] Quindlen’s seventh novel offers the literary equivalent of comfort food. . . . She still has her finger firmly planted on the pulse of her generation.”—NPR

“Enchanting . . . [The protagonist’s] photographs are celebrated for turning the ‘minutiae of women’s lives into unforgettable images,’ and Quindlen does the same here with her enveloping, sure-handed storytelling.”—People

“Charming . . . a hot cup of tea of a story, smooth and comforting about the vulnerabilities of growing older . . . a pleasure.”—USA Today
 
“With spare, elegant prose, [Quindlen] crafts a poignant glimpse into the inner life of an aging woman who discovers that reality contains much more color than her own celebrated black-and-white images.”—Library Journal
 
“Quindlen has always excelled at capturing telling details in a story, and she does so again in this quiet, powerful novel, showing the charged emotions that teem beneath the surface of daily life.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Quindlen presents instantly recognizable characters who may be appealingly warm and nonthreatening, but that only serves to drive home her potent message that it’s never too late to embrace life’s second chances.”—Booklist
 
“Profound . . . engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In a small town on the verge of big change, a young woman unearths deep secrets about her family and unexpected truths about herself. Filled with insights that are the hallmark of Anna Quindlen’s bestsellers, Miller’s Valley is an emotionally powerful story about a family you will never forget.

For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”

Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.

Praise for Miller's Valley

“Overwhelmingly moving . . . In this novel, where so much is about what vanishes, there is also a deep beating heart, of what also stays.”—The New York Times Book Review 

“Stunning . . . The matriarchal theme [is] at the heart of Miller’s Valley. Miriam pushes her smart daughter to consider college, and other women—a teacher, a doctor, a benefactor—will raise Mimi up past the raging waters that swirl in her heart.”—The Washington Post 

“Economical and yet elegant . . . [Anna Quindlen’s] storytelling and descriptive powers make Miller’s Valley compelling. . . . Miller’s Valley has a geography and fate all its own but its residents, realities, disappointments, joys and cycle of life feel familiar, in the best way possible.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A family story with humor, surprise, sorrow and mystery . . . Quindlen has created distinctive characters, none of whom seems like anyone you’ve met before in fiction.”—The Columbus Dispatch

“A breathtakingly moving look at a family.”—USA Today

“[Anna] Quindlen’s provocative novel will have you flipping through the pages of your own family history and memories even as you can’t stop reading about the Millers. . . . a coming-of-age story that reminds us that the past continues to wash over us even as we move away from the places and events that formed us.”—Chicago Tribune

“Picking up a novel by Anna Quindlen means more than just meeting a new family—it’s like moving in and pretending they are yours. It’s a rare gift for a writer, and Quindlen does it to near perfection.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Quindlen’s novel of a childhood examined by someone who literally can’t go home again is an incredibly engaging read. . . . Miller’s Valley takes familiar themes and manages to make them fresh and new.”—Bust
3.8
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Apr 24, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780679604006
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Women
Family & Relationships / Parenting / Motherhood
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A memoir from the author of The Middle Place about mothers and daughters—a bond that can be nourishing, exasperating, and occasionally divine.
 
When Kelly Corrigan was in high school, her mother neatly summarized the family dynamic as “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” This meant nothing to Kelly, who left childhood sure that her mom—with her inviolable commandments and proud stoicism—would be nothing more than background chatter for the rest of Kelly’s life, which she was carefully orienting toward adventure. After college, armed with a backpack, her personal mission statement, and a wad of traveler’s checks, she took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting.
 
But it didn’t turn out the way she pictured it. In a matter of months, her savings shot, she had a choice: get a job or go home. That’s how Kelly met John Tanner, a newly widowed father of two looking for a live-in nanny. They chatted for an hour, discussed timing and pay, and a week later, Kelly moved in. And there, in that house in a suburb north of Sydney, 10,000 miles from the house where she was raised, her mother’s voice was suddenly everywhere, nudging and advising, cautioning and directing, escorting her through a terrain as foreign as any she had ever trekked. Every day she spent with the Tanner kids was a day spent reconsidering her relationship with her mother, turning it over in her hands like a shell, straining to hear whatever messages might be trapped in its spiral.
 
This is a book about the difference between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers. But mostly it’s about who you admire and why, and how that changes over time.

Praise for Glitter and Glue

“I loved this book, I was moved by this book, and now I will share this book with my own mother—along with my renewed appreciation for certain debts of love that can never be repaid.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Kelly Corrigan’s thoughtful and beautifully rendered meditation invites readers to reflect on their own launchings and homecomings. I accepted the invitation and learned things about myself. You will, too. Isn’t that why we read?”—Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Water

“Kelly Corrigan is no stranger to mining the depths of her heart. . . . Through her own experience of caring for children, she begins, for the first time, to appreciate the complex woman who raised her.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Thompson captures the ache, fizz, yearning and frustration of being the father of adolescent boys.” —Michael Chabon

“What a riveting, touching, and painful read!” —Maria Semple

“Fun, moving, raw, and relatable.” —Tony Hawk

What makes a good father, and what makes one a failure? Does less-is-more parenting inspire independence and strength, or does it encourage defiance and  trouble? Kickflip Boys is the story of a father’s struggle to understand his willful skateboarder sons, challengers of authority and convention, to accept his role as a vulnerable “skate dad,” and to confront his fears that the boys are destined for an unconventional and potentially fraught future.

With searing honesty, Neal Thompson traces his sons’ progression through all the stages of skateboarding: splurging on skate shoes and boards, having run-ins with security guards, skipping classes and defying teachers, painting graffiti, drinking and smoking, and more. As the story veers from funny to treacherous and back, from skateparks to the streets, Thompson must confront his complicity and fallibility. He also reflects on his upbringing in rural New Jersey, and his own adventures with skateboards, drugs, danger, and defiance. 

A story of thrill-seeking teens, of hope and love, freedom and failure, Kickflip Boys reveals a sport and a community that have become a refuge for adolescent boys who don’t fit in. Ultimately, it’s the survival story of a loving modern American family, of acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go.

The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A superb love story from Anna Quindlen, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rise and Shine, Blessings, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life
 
Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.
 
Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“There comes a moment in every novelist’s career when she . . . ventures into new territory, breaking free into a marriage of tone and style, of plot and characterization, that’s utterly her own. Anna Quindlen’s marvelous romantic comedy of manners is just such a book. . . . Taken as a whole, Quindlen’s writings represent a generous and moving interrogation of women’s experience across the lines of class and race. [Still Life with Bread Crumbs] proves all the more moving because of its light, sophisticated humor. Quindlen’s least overtly political novel, it packs perhaps the most serious punch. . . . Quindlen has delivered a novel that will have staying power all its own.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[A] wise tale about second chances, starting over, and going after what is most important in life.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Quindlen’s astute observations . . . are the sorts of details every writer and reader lives for.”—Chicago Tribune

“[Anna] Quindlen’s seventh novel offers the literary equivalent of comfort food. . . . She still has her finger firmly planted on the pulse of her generation.”—NPR

“Enchanting . . . [The protagonist’s] photographs are celebrated for turning the ‘minutiae of women’s lives into unforgettable images,’ and Quindlen does the same here with her enveloping, sure-handed storytelling.”—People

“Charming . . . a hot cup of tea of a story, smooth and comforting about the vulnerabilities of growing older . . . a pleasure.”—USA Today
 
“With spare, elegant prose, [Quindlen] crafts a poignant glimpse into the inner life of an aging woman who discovers that reality contains much more color than her own celebrated black-and-white images.”—Library Journal
 
“Quindlen has always excelled at capturing telling details in a story, and she does so again in this quiet, powerful novel, showing the charged emotions that teem beneath the surface of daily life.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Quindlen presents instantly recognizable characters who may be appealingly warm and nonthreatening, but that only serves to drive home her potent message that it’s never too late to embrace life’s second chances.”—Booklist
 
“Profound . . . engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A near-perfect memoir: beautiful, humble, intimate and filled with piercing insights.  Meant to be savored and shared.”—Time

They met over their dogs. Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp (author of Drinking: A Love Story) became best friends, talking about everything from their love of books and their shared history of a struggle with alcohol to their relationships with men. Walking the woods of New England and rowing on the Charles River, these two private, self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with cancer. With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion, and courage in this gorgeous memoir about treasuring a best friend, and coming of age in midlife. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is a celebration of the profound transformations that come from intimate connection—and it affirms, once again, why Gail Caldwell is recognized as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Gail Caldwell's New Life, No Instructions.

Praise for Let's Take the Long Way Home

“Stunning . . . gorgeous . . . intense and moving . . . A book of such crystalline truth that it makes the heart ache.”—The Boston Globe
 
“[Let’s Take the Long Way Home] left me intensely moved. . . . Caldwell’s greatest achievement is to rise above [death and loss] to describe both the very best that women can be together and the precious things they can, if they wish, give back to one another: power, humor, love and self-respect.”—Julie Myerson, The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
 
“[A] beautiful book . . . The losing isn’t the exceptional part of this story; everyone loses something, sooner or later.  The wonder lies in finding it in the first place.”—Salon
 
“A tribute to the enduring power of friendship . . . You can shelve Let’s Take the Long Way Home . . . next to The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s searing memoir about losing her husband to heart failure.  But that’s assuming it makes it to your shelf: This is a book you’ll want to share with your own ‘necessary pillars of life,’ as Caldwell refers to her nearest and dearest. . . . A lovely gift to readers.”—Washington Post
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